This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a local child advocacy group, held its first annual Give Kids Sight Day November 21. The event, co-sponsored by Eagles Youth Partnership, was held in response to reports from school nurses that some students who had failed eye exams were not getting follow-up care.
According to PCCY, in the 2007-08 school year, 63 percent of the 22,000 children that failed the school vision screening did not see an eye doctor afterward.
“We sat down with the Eagles and with a larger coalition to figure out what we could do,” says Colleen McCauley- Brown, PCCY’s health policy director. They came up with an event modeled on the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile Day.
The response exceeded expectations. More than 1,100 kids received a free screening, exam, and/or glasses at either Wills Eye Hospital or The Eye Institute. At each location, nearly 40 percent of all children screened did need and receive glasses.
“It was quite spectacular, but also sad, that children couldn’t get care otherwise,” says Dr. Alex Levin, chief of pediatrics at Wills Eye Hospital.
“Some people had to wait over three hours, but people were grateful that we provided this service.”
Talona Coleman, a recently laid-off mom with three sons, attended the event.
All three received glasses. “I think it was an awesome program and truly a blessing,” Coleman said.